I ask A.j. to grab me some #OwnVoices galleys from ALA, and she mailed me a juicy stack, including Don't Ask Me Where I'm From, which I think will be a big book when it comes out in May. Many people can relate to being asked where they're from, and when the answer, like Liliana's is Boston, the follow up is where are you from from.
Liliana is the daughter of immigrants--her mom is from El Salvador and her dad, away at the top of the novel, is from Guatemala. Shortly after we meet Liliana, who loves writing and is probably the best writer in her Jamaica Plain public school, she is notified that her number has come up for a special program, that buses kids like her (of color? poor? with special talents? supposedly not, but...) to suburban schools. Liliana's dad really wanted her to get an opportunity like this one, and with her dad missing, Liliana feels the need to honor it. Plus her mother, who is depressed and anxious, not to mention strict, insists on it. So off to Westburg Liliana goes, getting up at 5am.
As one might imagine, integration programs aren't always integrative. Sure, Liliana (who rechristens herself Lili at Westburg) is in smaller classes in bigger and better resourced rooms and likely getting an education that will help her succeed in white America, but the social scene is tricky, and overt racism abounds.